I will be honest.

Podcasting happened to me.

I did not go seeking it. But I am so glad that it did. And as any self-righteous person with an ego will tell you, I felt I could do this in my sleep. #WakeUpAsh. The first dozen or so were forgettable –apologies to my guests – it was all my fault. I have gotten better thanks to the battle scars, a desire to connect+learn+educate and, most importantly, the mind shift from just wanting to be a great podcaster to discovering a real problem –

“the chasm in cybersecurity that exists between practitioners of the art and the producers of product.”

As I look back in retrospective, I am immensely grateful for five things that podcasting has taught me.

Building human bonds

Would you raise an eyebrow (or its artificial equivalent on your forehead) if I were to say that in 25 minutes of conversation we could build an enduring bond? Yet, it has happened with every guest, every time. How so? I have no idea. Maybe because there is no selling or financial motivation involved, simply a desire to converse, show vulnerability, learn from failures, and help the listeners.

Respecting the listener

What’s the big deal? The podcast is only 25 minutes long, so I expect you to listen to it. #Never. Maybe because I was a solopreneur for a year, I was under no illusion that the listener has unlimited time. I need to get her to want to listen but need to give her a reason to do so. So, each podcast is timestamped with key takeaways (thanks Katie). If you have only 30 seconds and want to know what the #1 turn-off for CISO’s is, jump to 3:24, spend 33 seconds listening, and ignore the rest

Giving back

What did I have to give back to these amazing people that I had the privilege to converse with? As it so happens, connecting the dots. Let me explain. One podcast guest, Jason, is a CISO and his organization’s customers are energy, process and power industries. We shared an amazing conversation about the security needed to keep human beings, the environment, and infrastructure safe. Not long after, I read a remarkable article about another CISO, Suzie, who is in a similar space and innovating constantly. I sent the article to Jason, and I’m now hoping to host them both on a joint podcast and build even more bonds and human awareness

Staying true

One unwavering mission I had in mind when launching into this was to keep the tone informal and really create an atmosphere much like two individuals chatting over coffee – even as the topics spanned the gamut of tech diversity, vendor trust, organizational culture. And this was put to the test over and over again. How so? I had PR folks reach out to me beforehand requesting a copy of the questions to get their clients prepped. My answer #NoWay. If they can’t handle the unknown, we can skip the conversation all together.

Making an impact

When Pradeep and I first joined forces at UberKnowledge, we were singularly aligned — one of our shared missions was to help, in our own small way, bridge the gender gap that exists in cybersecurity. And truth be told, that larger-than-life cause ensured we actively seek out more women for our podcasts and unfairly give them more airtime to help inspire the next generation of women leaders in cybersecurity.

That’s it. In Hindi there is a phrase that goes like this

“Abhi to party shuru hui hai”

loosely translated to mean

“the party is only getting started”

There is lots more to come. I am so glad podcasting happened to me. And these life lessons will endure long after the mike goes silent and the last word has been spoken.



    Empathy, Education, Empowerment

    Mine is a typical Indian immigrant story: an Engineer who became an Engineering Manager, who grew antsy and segued into Product Management then rose to VP and SVP. During those years I fancied I was innovating and experimenting, but in reality I was wearing a corporate straitjacket. Constrained by my industry’s insular mindset, I became a slave to the definition of my job. Inevitably, I ended up dissatisfied. So, I did something unusual for a man in my position: I stopped to reflect. I searched my life and talents for what was fulfilling and had purpose. I discovered I enjoyed storytelling to promote understanding. I loved mentoring and helping people become the best version of themselves. Importantly, I realized I was still passionate about the tech industry, particularly the issues surrounding privacy and ethics. Today, I’m pursuing my passions. I like to think of myself as an accelerator of technology and positivity. I’m the COO of UberKnowledge, bringing cybersecurity awareness and training to demographics that are underrepresented in the industry. I speak at conferences highlighting the need for a sharper focus on the ethics surrounding the technology industry.  I write articles and blog posts using analogy to simplify technology trends and complex topics like AI and IoT. I host podcasts with CISOs and other industry experts. The purpose of these is not to sell snake oil or products but to bridge the chasm between security vendors and customers so that the real problems can be solved to make the world a safer place. Underpinning all of these efforts is my belief that life’s purpose for us all is simply to connect. And the best way to do that is through generous and positive gestures.